Capitol Hill Staffers Find Common Jewish Bond

WASHINGTON – With Capitol Hill deeply divided, one outlet remains for those in the Jewish community interested in transcending the partisan tensions. Founded about 20 years ago, the Congressional Jewish Staffers Association (CJSA) attracts members both Republicans and Democrats from the chief of staff level all the way down to new interns and staff assistants.

Becca Brukman, President of CJSA, told Jewish Insider that the group “provides a much needed sense of community and promotes a sense of togetherness and I really like connecting people.”

Serving as the Communication Director of Representative Dwight Evans (D-PA), Brukman previously worked as Deputy Press Secretary for Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA).

The non-denominational, bicameral group meets monthly for Shabbat dinners, happy hours, and programing around Jewish holidays. Its largest annual program — a Passover Seder — will be held this year on April 13. With 500 Congressional staffers on CJSA’s email list, the group has a relatively wide reach.

“It’s a big city but this kind of gives you a little bit of a niche and makes you find your home and place,” she said.

Brukman cautioned that the organization does not include any programming about Israel. “The group is not political. People can seek that out in other channels and that’s not something we promote or push,” she added. At the same time, she also connects Congressional staffers with local Synagogues and Torah study sessions across the city.

Brukman noted that the organization is looking to increase its community service volunteering connecting with the Jewish value of “Tikkun Olam” or repairing the world. “It’s really nice to find common ground in the workplace, especially at a time when there are so many different opinions and political perspectives.”

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